Guardian editorial: And now we recommend a national Occupy Day

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EDITORIAL In less than three months, the Occupy movement has changed the national political debate -- and possibly the course of U.S. history. A small group of protesters, derided in the mainstream media, grew to a massive outpouring of anger at economic inequality. It's no coincidence that politicans at all levels have begun to respond. At least five different measures aimed at raising taxes on the rich are in the works in California. In Kansas Dec. 6, President Obama made one of the most progressive speeches of his career, talking directly about the need for economic justice.

While even some supposed allies say the encampments weren’t effective, the truth is that the out-front, in-your-face tactic of holding nonstop protests in the financial heart of places like Manhattan and San Francisco got attention. The visibility of the Occupy camps forced everyone to pay attention. The U.S. economy is in a crisis; less disruptive tactics wouldn’t have worked. But now most of the emcampments are gone, broken up by police forces and scattered from the central areas of major cities. It’s crucial that this growing and powerful national movement not fall apart after the almost inevitable crackdown on one style of protest. Occupy needs to look forward and plan its next steps.

Some of that is already happening, with Occupy activists targeting home foreclosures and marching on West Coast ports. But it’s worth considering another tactic, too: Occupy ought to begin planning now for a massive spring mobilization in Washington and a series of nationwide actions that could bring millions more people into the movement.

Part of the strategy of the Occupy camps was to maintain a presence, day after day -- and that made perfect sense when the movement was starting. But single-day events, if organized on a massive scale as part of a larger campaign, can have a profound and lasting impact.

The original Earth Day -- April 22, 1970 -- involved 20 million people across the United States. There were events in hundreds of cities and thousands of high school and college campuses. It brought together old-school, sometime stodgy conservation groups with radical young environmentalists, the United Auto Workers with people concerned about pollution from car exhaust. It was, by any reasonable account, the birth of the modern American environmental movement.

The other great thing about Earth Day -- and the reason it makes a great model for the Occupy movement -- is that it was largely a grassroots event. Although there was a national office, most of the work was done spontaneously, in local communities, with no top-down direction.

And everyone -- from Washington D.C. to the state capitols and city halls -- paid attention.

Mass marches and mobilizations helped end the Vietnam War, spark the Civil Rights Movement and fight the anti-labor politics of the Reagan Administration. None of those events took place in isolation, any more than a national Occupy Day would take place in isolation. The nation’s ready for major economic change -- and organizing a national event alone could help make stronger connnections among the broad constituency that is the 99 percent.

 

 

Comments

Destruction of the Bill of rights by California's Senators

Both Senators Boxer and Feinstein voted for legislation that would deny SUSPECTED terrorists, even U.S. CITIZENS seized within the nation's borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention by the military who may also execute US citizens without due process. I
f you demonstrate against the corporate police state and you may disapear forever!!
They have trashed the US Constitution!

Take back America from the corporate billionaires!!!

Posted by sf t party on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

certainly should be kicked out. But people thought that long before "Occupy" so I wouldn't give too much credit to them for the perception of Boxer's incompetance.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

Occupy is not a single, clearly defined, orderly movement. Rather it is a primal scream of rage against a host of social issues. This is why Occupy is so violently opposed by the establishment and main stream media. The establishment because they don't have the imagination to hold such a broad spectrum protest (so it must be wrong) and the media because they can't make a tidy 'impact' article that sells to as many people as possible.

Instead of seeking to lead, our leaders seek to suppress. If one major city mayor, be it SF, Oakland or NY, steps up and welcomes the Occupy so that they have a national stage to play to, that mayor will become a greater leader and grow into something great. But to do that they need to look beyond the dirty campers, the street people who move in with Occupy, the drugs, the dogs and all the rest that they now shake their finger at and shout "BAD". Rather look to why there are people who will camp in the dirt, in the rain, with a street crazy for a neighbor and work WITH Occupy to create change and bring equality.

I'm a rare breed in CA, a moderate Republican, but I have marched with Occupy in SF and Oakland, been pushed to the ground in Justin Herman Plaza by the police and joined in closing the port yesterday. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of these United States and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Part of that is the freedom of peaceful assembly. Anytime! Not just when it's convenient for the current rulers of our society.

Be strong America and join with Occupy to reclaim your country from the American Aristocracy! If the French could do it, we sure as heck can!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

always inevitable. it's basically a festival of ideas and dissent without any clear objective. The fact that they can't even decide on a tactic or a target shows thata s well as anything. First they try and close down banks. When that doesn't work, they camp out. When that fails, they block a port for a day. Or squat in some run-down vacant house.

It's like a retreaded version of the sumemr of love, which of course ended in drugs, crime and misery as soon as the weather turned.

It's done. Stick a fork in it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 7:09 am

It's always amusing reading comments on the Bay Guardian website. It's like attending a convention of every spin doctor in town.

Does anyone who post here work in any field besides advertising, campaign management, PR spin, or the legal field where people are paid big dollars to lie for their clients?

For a contrary point of view to yours, here's Time Magazine's take on its 2011 Person of the Year: The Protestor.

Unlike most of us who post comments on this website - Guests, egotists who use their own name, or the ever popular "Anonymous" - the Time article includes thoughtful, nuanced analysis of the Occupy movement in the US and assorted other protest actions around the globe.

But don't let reality spoil your wishful thinking or your preconcieved notions. It may make your head hurt.

A couple of quotes from the long article:

"Massive and effective street protest" was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history."
...

"The nonleader leaders of Occupy are using the winter to build an organization and enlist new protesters for the next phase. They have shifted the national conversation. As Politico recently reported, the Nexis news-media database now registers almost 500 mentions of "inequality" each week; the week before Occupy Wall Street started, there were only 91. But what would count, a few years hence, as success? According to gung-ho Adbusters editors Kalle Lasn and Micah White, it's already "the greatest social-justice movement to emerge in the United States since the civil rights era." Yet it took a decade to get from the Montgomery bus boycott to the federal civil rights acts, which were just the end of the beginning.

The wisest Occupiers understand that these are very early days. But as long as government in Washington — like government in Europe — remains paralyzed, I don't see the Occupiers and Indignados giving up or losing traction or protest ceasing to be the defining political mode. After all, the Tea Party protests subsided only after Tea Partyers achieved real power in 2010 by becoming the tail wagging the Republican Party dog. When radical populist movements achieve big-time momentum and attention, they don't tend to stand down until they get some satisfaction."

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_21021...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 8:38 am

all I have to do is not wash for a few weeks and whine a lot?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 11:15 am

URDUMB!

Posted by Guesteve on Dec. 27, 2011 @ 10:20 am

It was mostly directed at the Mid-East uprisings, which achieved real change rather than the cat's cradle of diffuse and unachievable demands.

That you see them as the same is risible.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 10:55 am

protests that they were acknowledging.

But the problem is that there have always been protests, but now every protest is called "Occupy". In other words, protesting in general has been co-opted, labeled and marketed.

The anti-war protests of a few years ago were actually far more supported and popular than Occupy. We just didn't give them a label. And of course they didn't change policy either. In fact, protesting hasn't changed policy in the US since the 1960's.

So the real change here is that all protesting is now subsumed under "Occupy". And since the movement doesn't really have a fixed meaning or identity, it can be changed to mean anything you want it to mean. Which is why their targets change constantly.

"Occupy" is simply an example of what America does best - crteating a feelgood brand with little substance behind it. We're really good at that.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 12:07 pm